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The return of Gardsbury cannot be understated

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The return of Jacoby Ellsbury means a lot of things for this Yankees lineup, and he simply can't return soon enough.

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The last time that Jacoby Ellsbury saw action in a Yankees uniform was back on May 19 in a 8-6 loss against the Nationals. Since then, the Yankees have shuffled their lineup, mostly batting Brett Gardner first and Chase Headley second, but we have even seen Chris Young lead off for the Yanks. As we near a return for everyone's favorite leadoff-man, let's take a look at all the good he brings to the team.

The production that Gardner has brought to this year's Yankees team isn't noticed enough, and the fact that Carlos Beltran has more All-Star votes than Gardner is truly depressing, even more upsetting than the number of votes Alex Rodriguez has. This season, Gardner is hitting .293/.365/.482 with a wRC+ of 135. Over his career, Gardner has statistically been better as a number-two hitter than as a leadoff guy. Gardner's career average batting leadoff is .267, while his average batting second is .277. Not a huge difference, but a difference nonetheless. As far as the leadoff stats compare, Gardner hit .267 leading off (.323 career BABIP), Ellsbury has hit .292 as a leadoff batter over his career (.323 BABIP). Not only does Ellsbury boost the batting numbers in the leadoff spot, but he also provides blazing speed on the base paths, much more speed than Headley. In 2015, Ellsbury had 14 stolen bases in 37 games, while Headley has 0 stolen bases in 71 games. As Ellsbury nears his return, it's pretty clear that the top of the lineup will go back to the way it was. But it's later in the lineup where incremental upgrades stem from Ellsbury's return.

Once Ellsbury comes back, a big result of this is that Young is not an every day outfielder. The Yankees have started doing so already, but with Ellsbury healthy, a platoon of Young and Beltran comes back into play. To compare, in 2015, Beltran is hitting .246 against lefties, while Young is hitting sky-high at .379. Comparably, against righties, Beltran is hitting .268, while Young is hitting .177 (granted, Young only has 174 plate appearances this year, compared to Beltran's .246).

Also, as the season goes on, Headley continues to be hot and cold. In April, Headley bat .232. He picked it up in May, hitting .275. But now, at the end of June, Headley looks back at his struggles, hitting .253. Meanwhile, A-Rod hit .316 in May and .307 in June (so far). The return of Ellsbury pushes the struggling Headley back to the bottom of the lineup, and all but supplants A-Rod in the third spot. The trouble will be finding a good spot for Headley, as he is a career .264 with a wRC+ of 123 when he bats third (to compare, A-Rod's average is .294 with a wRC+ of 146). Headley is at his career-best when batting fifth (.276), but that's usually Brian McCann's spot. So, fans will have to wait and see what Joe Girardi does with him.

Ellsbury has been gone from this team for more than a month now. He provides a great bat and great speed to the top of a lately-struggling Yankees lineup. The return of Gardsbury yields two guys who get on base (Ellsbury's OBP is .412 while Gardner's is .365) and are able to steal bags (14 for Ellsbury, 15 for Gardner). The return of Ellsbury not only affects the top of the lineup, but it affects the team as a whole.